cover image The Worst Breakfast

The Worst Breakfast

China Miéville, illus. by Zak Smith. Black Sheep, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-61775-486-9

Miéville (Railsea) lets it rip in this stomping, howling rant about a bad meal of legendary proportions. “You can’t have forgotten the worst breakfast!” cries the older of two dark-skinned sisters sitting at the kitchen table. “The toast was burnt! The smell!/ The smoke! It made us choke!” The younger sister’s admission that she doesn’t remember merely spurs the older one on. “And the porridge!... It should be creamy, made of oats,/ not gunk scraped off the hulls of boats.” The festival of gustatory horrors builds to a page-long litany of medieval-sounding (but real) dishes: “Salmagundi, gruel, stinking bishop, and liver.... syllabub, muktuk, and limpin’ Susan.” Punk artist Smith’s neatly framed dialogue boxes and crisp black contours have a buttoned-up look, but no: tentacles wave from inside bowls, monsters smile amid mountains of vile sausages, and a blue alien juggles cherry tomatoes. As the pages turn, the towers of bad food grow ever loftier. In the end, a simple tea strainer saves the sisters from another terrible meal. This one’s for families enamored of new words, exotic foods, and strong opinions. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)